Awakened Worship (ICEWS eb 08)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08 )

I see so many elements of ‘being awake’ as a good metaphor to the worship lifestyle and leadership, so will use that as a hook on which to hang this all.

Awake: to the foundation of worship.
We were designed to worship God and reflect His image. When God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, created the world, we were invited into the eternal, circular dance of relationship with the Trinity. Even with this divine invitation, we see our inclination to turn away from the embrace of His love. This causes various levels of ‘sleep’ over our souls, some even to the point of death. Yet still God continues His pursuit toward us by self-revealing as Creator, King, Trinity and Saviour. Through the rescue mission of Jesus, we see the Imago Dei (1) again awakened as His redeemed Sub-creators, Imagebearers, Community Builders and Salvific Storytellers.

Awake: to what worship is
Worship means literally, “acknowledging the worth of something or someone. It means recognising and saying that something or someone is worthy of praise.” (2)

Worship is a living act, which is only possible because God loved us first. (3) He is always the initiator, we are always the responders. He is the always the giver, we are the recipients. He is God, we are not.

As we learn the sacrifice, surrender and lifestyle of worship, we see that worship is also what makes us fully human. It is reconnecting, through Jesus, to the creational and redemptive Biblical Story. (4) It is something that He has called us to live out as individuals, but also as a redemptive community of followers. (5)

There are echoes of His voice, speaking to us in our sleepy state of consciousness, and we hear the whisper increase in volume in our search for justice, in the quest for spirituality, in our deep-seeded longing for relationship and in the yearning for beauty that throbs in every human heart. An awakened worshipper will begin to join His story to reclaim these aspects of His nature in our world. (6)

Awake: to the power of music and the arts
We will be calling people out of various states of brokenness in thousands of different ways to allow truth to reveal Himself. Using every creative tool available to us, we will give voice to hope and justice, re-shaping of culture, through the power of the Gospel encounter. We will open the way for the story to be re-told and re-framed for our day.

Song allows “affection to be expressed and thoughts affirmed”. (7) It also carries the power to educate our hearts and minds. We see much song expression in the Bible. It gives witness to the salvation story, telling of the acts of God. They expressed their belief in salvation in lives of prayer and obedience, social structures of justice and compassion, and a moral life that honoured their core identity, male and female, as the image of God. It covers all of economics and politic, science and geography, literature and arts, work and family, body and neighbourhood.” ( 8 )

Through-out history, singing has been a unifying act for participating together. Music is an art-form that is significantly the primary language of our culture. It carries revolutionary power if we are awake to it.

Awake: to imagination and explanation
As worship artisans, (9) we give space to allow flourishing imagination.
In the life of the kingdom, (where everything originates and depends upon what we cannot see and is worked out in what we can see), imagination and explanation cannot get along without each other.

Explanation pins things down so that we can handle and use them – obey and teach, help and guide.

Imagination opens things up so that we can grow into maturity – worship and adore, exclaim and honour, follow and trust.” (10) When the Story is given robust and healthy expression, the two work in graceful synchronicity.

Awake: as leaders
As spiritual leaders we have the privilege and responsibility to disconnect from unhealthy cultural perspectives, and reconnect with solid theologically-based understanding. (11) We recognise we live in one sacred world, in the mysterious mix of brokenness and beauty, and we are part of God’s recovery mission. If we are wide awake, we will be approaching this wholistically with heart and head, hands and feet, orienting our whole lifestyle to honouring God.

Awake: as life-long learners
It is important for us to be life-long learners. We are always to seek understanding to our faith. We need to be creatively exploring fresh ways to connect the people we lead in this kingdom story. As the dominant language of the Holy Spirit is through story, we allow the Story to bring out the childlike in us – we venture in as expectant, wondering, responsive, delighted discover-ers, not approaching as experts.

Awake: as Kingdom participants
We intentionally make space for liminal moments, when the kingdom intersection of heaven and earth is present. We integrate the mysterious mix of brokenness and beauty, of joy and grief, of pain and healing. We ‘realise and extend creation through human re-enactment’. (12)
Through every gift we have been given, we release the freedom for each unique, redemptive, creative voice to be heard in our community. We expect the Spirit to continue to uncap new expressions which will re-cover the story for this generation, and those to come.

Awake: to the past, present and shaping future
We are to engage with the past, live fully in the present and look to the future. We intentionally grasp the pivotal, ongoing salvation action of God in history. We join with creation’s longing to express the beauty, greatness and goodness of God. We do this through thought and emotion, using Scripture, prayer, rituals, silence, stories and symbols integrating the best wisdom of the past. This is to shape the way we craft our emerging forms. We will embrace the value of both the formal and informal expressions, building avenues of honour inside and outside the faith community.

1. The image of God
2. NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 124
3. 1 John 4:19
4. Luke 10:27
5. “We grow, when we worship. We shrink as a human being when we give that same total worship to anything or anyone else.” NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 127
6. see Fully Human Response blog
7. Dan Wilt, What is Worship DVD
8. As we see with Moses and the Israelites. Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places p 180. 2005 Hodder and Stoughton, London
9.
Dan Wilt, The Worship Artisan Article
10. Eugene Peterson, Subversive Spirituality, p134. 1997 Regent College Publishing
11. Romans 12:1,2
12. Levinson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil, p xxi

 

 

The Arrival of the Kingdom 2 (ICEWS eb 08)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08 )

 

Part 2 

It is important to say that worship is an event based thing,

particularly in Luke and Acts.

(See The Arrival of the King 1)

 

I’ve been observing many conversations regarding the current state of what we understand of the worshipping, ‘gathered church’.  I think there’s a heart-cry from those who perceive a reality that many of our ‘corporate gatherings’ are at times, devoid of obvious signs of the arrival of the kingdom.

 

I believe we have to fight for the life of the kingdom among us, not in a performance-oriented way, but in a way that keeps us active and growing in our dependence on Jesus.

 

Passivity can often over-ride our expectation of the Kingdom.

I can see that passivity can easily be fed when we create environments which can wrongly give the perception that we are spectators not participants. But I also see that we can carry hearts which can subscribe to that passive nature.

 

It blinds us to the arrival of the King and the response then is also diminished.

 

Reading Luke’s writings with this framework, has given me new questions as I consider the role of the worship artisan.

  • In what way is the kingdom arriving today?
  • In what way can I assist that joy response? (whether it is born in the heart of an individual and spills over to the whole ‘gathered’ community or whether it arises all-together)
  • And further, will this overflow of the expression of Holy Spirit generated joy be contained in joy-filled songs alone?

Singing is very much a part of it. It may not be the first and only expression.

 

I envisage a broadened, exuberant, dynamic, vibrant explosion of celebration which will not be contained in song alone. Song is such a God-given gift to assist us to release our feet a-dancing and our bodies a-movin’, connecting and giving outflow to the joy, but what else is to erupt? It will be loud enough to shatter our pre-conceptions about much we ‘think’ we know about the Kingdom!

 

Hopefully our reaction to the arrival of the Kingdom breaking in will carry the language of response that is deeply transformational!

 

I see it being like the restored ‘blind’ man in Luke 18, who followed Jesus everywhere.

After receiving the Kingdom event of his healing, this man was chasing Jesus, and glorifying God.

This healed, changed man was fuelled with an amazed joy, and we see him filled with the Holy Spirit.

  

And…’everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.” (Luke 18, The Message)

The Arrival of the Kingdom 1 (ICEWS eb 08)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08 )

 

Part 1

 

We are moving at a fast pace on the downhill run with this Essentials Blue summer online course. Before I move into The Nature of Worship topic this week, I need to reflect on a slight tangent, but I think it’s partly foundational, bringing together of some of the worship themes.

 

Derek Morphew (The Arrival of the King video) presents a brief outline on how worship is an event based thing – particularly in Luke and Acts. His insight has initiated a fresh viewing point in understanding to the essence of worship.

————————————————–

(I can see why books are written on such thinking, I hope I can do justice with this very brief outline and then I’ll comment in the next post).

 

Worship is a reaction to the event of the kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is not simply the idea that God is King but the idea of the intervention of God’s rule arriving in our lives.

 

We see the Arrival – The Break in – The Reaction.

There is always a ‘time and place’ – His Kingdom arriving (in history, in our communities, in our lives, in moments, and so on) The Kingdom breaks in, and then comes the Reaction.

 

The essence of worship is a reaction to the arrival of the Kingdom.

 

Derek Morphew unpacks that in light of the Biblical theology of the kingdom, highlighting two strands of that theme in:

Luke –where the Kingdom of God has come in Jesus, and

Acts – where the Kingdom of God has come in Pentecost.

 

As the Kingdom comes in Luke, there is a continual language of response.

People react in all sorts of ways to the coming of the Kingdom, and themes we see in Luke.

 

People are amazed.

People break into song.

People are taken up in the joy of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the agent who brings the intervention of the Kingdom.

 

There’s a whole string of examples if you unpack that.

 Some examples in Luke:

a)  The Infancy narratives:

The baby leaps in Elizabeth’s womb.

(i.e. John the Baptist who is the prophet of the coming Kingdom).

See how she sings a prophetic song/poem, and is filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. It’s the song of the arrival of the kingdom.

We see it from the very opening of the story.

b)  The Heavenly hosts sing at Jesus’ birth

c)   The Ministry of Jesus begins

Eg. The paralytic healed – people are amazed and start praising God.

Eg. The guy given sight – he follows Jesus praising Him.

d)  The Lost Son, Lost Coin, Lost Sheep

We see the picture God as King who comes to seek that which is lost and see the strong language of response.

Eg. Lost Sheepsee the joy of heaven over one lost sinner that is found; the idea of heaven’s singing at the event of the kingdom finding somebody.

Eg. Lost Son Jesus pictures the celebration that follows the event, with dancing and a party – in the event of kingdom as the Father/Son found each other.

e)  The Triumphal Entry

f)  The Resurrection Narratives

 

Luke is connecting the language of response to these examples.

 

In Acts, we see the same language follows all through.

Eg. We see Pentecost and the response was overwhelming.(tongues, different languages spoken)

Eg. Evangelism/signs and wonders/healing – people are responding with amazement and joy.

 

The joy theme is interwoven with the response theme and the amazement theme.

Layer upon layer, Luke is building this language of response.

 

The joy is not simply natural joy, but the joy of being visited by God.

We see joy is triggered off by things like healing, and by forgiveness.

Eg. Acts 3, the cripple healed and he dances and praises God;

Eg. Acts 8, the eunuch finds Jesus and is baptised, continuing on with his journey filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy.

 

When Luke talks about joy, he describes it is manifested in loud exclamation. A strong, loud response!

The joy of the Holy Spirit comes on people and they experience something which is not simply human generated joy, but it’s like the time Jesus responded when He saw Satan falling from heaven.

 

Much more detail could be given.

 

A brief summary – Luke maps out:

The arrival of the kingdom in Jesus

The arrival of the kingdom in Pentecost

 The writings give detail of the response language and how it relates to worship.

 

It is important to say that worship is an event based thing,

particularly in Luke and Acts.

The Shaping of a Worldview

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08 )

 

This week we were given the massive task to distill all that we have read and discussed into a summarised Christian worldview which will begin to shape our next couple of weeks.

So with a deep breath here goes…

God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created, as the free outpouring of powerful love. He was not contained in this world, but He remained in a close, dynamic, intimate relationship with His creation, crowning humans as His “flower and crown of creation.” (1)

Human beings carry the inherent nature of God. We have been given worth and dignity because of the One who has made us. To our astonishment, humans are invited to live in eternal relationship with Him, to love and worship Him, all anchoring our identity, belonging and purpose. In His image, humans reflect His loving nature and rule on this earth. We are part of a Big Story which engages us as fully alive recipients and participants.
Seduced by evil, the human race have chosen to walk away from God’s holy embrace, and by this, we have sinned and broken relationship. (2)

Death, darkness, independence, sickness, and judgement were all introduced. But the loving Pursuit continued as God relentlessly sought out restored relationship with His people.
At the fullness of time, Christ came. (3)

His holy life and death was accepted by the Father. He overcame death and our sin, once for all. Through His obedience, suffering and His resurrection power, He has exchanged His life for ours. He is the loving Lord and Saviour who redeems all that was lost. In Jesus, heaven and earth have come together once and for all.
We have confidence in Jesus (4) It is through obedient relationship with Him, He has brought us back to God, living in right-relatedness to Him, to each other, with ourselves and with the whole of creation (5)

As Jesus rose again, God’s whole new creation emerged from the tomb, introducing a world full of new potential and possibility. (6)

We see again, one sacred world in various states of beauty and brokenness.
He has moved into our neighbourhood through His Spirit. He has raised up His Church, to be active agents in the Big story of redemption as gratefully restored Subcreators, Image-bearers, Community Builders and Salvific Storytellers.(7)

Once again, the King rules under the reality that ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’ We are no longer passive, helpless spectators but we are commissioned to go and make new creation happen in the world as fully alive humans, restoring spirituality, justice, beauty and relationship.
Implanted by the Spirit is a living hope that God will one day put the whole creation to rights. It has already come, and begun through Jesus. He is renewing, restoring and filling the whole cosmos with new joy, purpose and delight, forever disarming all evil. We are to sing the songs of salvation and hope, for the sake of those who have not yet re-discovered the embrace of their Heavenly Father.
The Church without walls, seeks not to escape this world, nor expand our own empires, but we live in the ‘now and not yet’ of the new kingdom, where earth and heaven overlap – His future overlaps with our present.
Jesus is re-engaging us as willing participants to re-make all to wholeness. As His restored people, we follow Him into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us. ( 8 )  

We await His reappearing, where every knee will bow at His name and all creation will be renewed, the dead raised and His new world will at last be fully in place forever.

1. NT Wright, The Creation Integration, video
2.Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places p 182
3. Galatians 4:4
4. Brian McLaren, Jesus Creed, IW Master All, p 182
5. Wilt, The Nature of Human Beings, p 4
6. NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 99
7. Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places p 184
8. NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 202

How will you join in? (ICEWS eb 08)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08 )

 

As we revisit His Creation Story (1), we see the full intention of God’s handiwork.

 

God has named humans as His “flower and crown of creation.” (2)

He has made us in His image. We are the Imago Dei.

We are in His likeness, reflecting His nature and loving rule on this earth. (I’ve tried to amplify some of those thoughts here)

 

Over time, we shrink and life leaks out of us. It’s a battle to keep fully alive.

We live in a world which is marred by the Fall, but we carry the promise and hope of being fully human, by the resurrection power of His Son and Spirit within us.

 

My observation is that we are in a world that lives under the rule of entropy, which is “inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.”  (3)

 

The concept of entropy says nature tends to move from order to disorder.

Everything winds down and disintegrates over a period of time.

If you leave things alone things don’t get better, they get worse.

 

Now I’m not an expert, but this concept means that given the status quo, things will deteriorate rather than get better.

 

If, for example, you have a garden, and you leave it over time, weeds will grow, left untended.

We can also find this infects our relationships, our families, our hearts, and so on.

 

But that’s not the way God has intended it.

 

As we consider how we live crowned in this alternate reality, of being fully alive, the following grand statements about the heart of spirituality give us focus.

 

1)  You become like what you worship.”

2)  Worship makes you more truly human.

When you gaze in love and gratitude at the God in whose image you were made, you do indeed grow. You discover more of what it means to be fully alive. Conversely when you give that same total worship to anything or anyone else, you shrink as a human being.” (4)

 

We are built for relationship with God and others. Out of this we are Community Builders (5) made for serving, for loving, for giving, for creating, for putting things to right in this world.

 

In big gestures, and equally hidden in the small, we are the ones who are grace-filled participants in His rescue of a world that is deteriorating. We are invited in the re-enacting of His new creation.

 

Being fully human is part of that recovery.

 

NT Wright has explored the “truth that worship is going on in heaven, in God’s dimension all the time. The question we ought to be asking is how best we might join in?” (5)

 

1. Genesis 1:26,27 and 2:7 The Message

2. NT Wright, The Creation Integration video

3. American Heritage Dictionary

4. NT Wright, Simply Christian p 127

5. Dan Wilt, The Nature of Human Beings video

6. NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 126

Lest We Forget (ICEWS eb 08)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08 )

 

The Pope is in Australia. It’s World Youth Day.

 

Every day this week, across the nation, news stories have revolved around his visit.

Hundreds of thousands have made their way from around the world to arrive in Sydney to celebrate.  In Melbourne alone, 700 busloads of ‘pilgrims’ hit the highways on Monday night.  

 

It’s funny to hear the word ‘pilgrim’ warmly re-entering Australian lingo. These sojourners have come out in force, not violently, but in celebration, devotion and youthful enthusiasm which has captured the attention of the nation.

 

Our newsreaders report that the pilgrims are connecting to the part of their life that is “usually invisible” to us all.

 

I see some parallels as Dan Wilt reminded us this week that we all love going to the movies.

We have a need to find somewhere to hang our stories onto a real story, a bigger story”. (1) We need to tap into the hope, courage, joy of the Bigger story. Lest we forget.

 

Dan explains it’s like “…framing the loss of intimacy with God that we enjoyed in the garden as a loss of memory…John Eldredge, respected author of books such as The Sacred Romance, Wild At Heart and Raising The Dead suggested once that our continued forgetfulness is the surest sign that we are a fallen race.

 

Worship and creativity is about bringing back, to our corporate memory, the saving acts of God that are transforming the world we live in. In our acts of worship leadership, worship creation and service planning, we are architecting environments in which human beings can remember our shared Story.

 

He reminds us “there are a thousand ways we can both “show and tell” the Kingdom Story with every opportunity God gives us.  “Preach the Gospel at all times,” said Assisi, “and if necessary, use words.” (2)

 

Dan describes us as salvific storytellers.

The New Testament calls us as witnesses. We are calling others to be fully human through the redemptive, saving work of Christ. Lest we forget.

 

Eugene Peterson quotes the poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins

“for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces

 

Peterson says “It is the task of the Christian community to give witness and guidance in the living of life in a culture that is relentless in reducing, constricting, and enervating this life.” (3)

All throughout Biblical history we see the storytellers at large, the witnesses of God’s awesome activity.

 

In our day, we are the ones given the invitation to continue to call to our corporate memory the Lord of All and His salvation story. Lest we forget.

 

 

1. Dan Wilt, The Nature of  the Human Being  p 8

2. Dan Wilt, The Nature of  the Human Being p 9

3. Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places – A conversation in Spiritual Theology c 2005 Hodder and Stoughton, London p 3

Fully Human Response

Again, for those who are ‘outside the classroom’ we were asked this week at ICEWS eb 08, to give a brief theological and anthropological reflection on what it means to be a human being. Here’s some thoughts I posted.

 

We, as lead worshippers, recognise that first comes revelation, then response. We are made in the image of God, and He has uniquely wired us to live fully alive with the creative capacity to respond to Him.

 

We are the pinnacle of God’s creativity carrying both the joyous privilege and weighty responsibility as sub-creators. We are His vice-regents, representing His kingdom with every fingerprint of our surrendered lives. We live in the knowledge that from Him all things flow, through Him and to Him are all things, reflected back to Him for the praise of His glory.(1)

 

We have been given worth and dignity because of Who has made us. We carry the inherent nature of God, revealing His glory in our capacity to fully live with all His attributes shining through us. 

 

Fully alive we respond with ‘radical astonishment’ (2) that it is through the Creator of this lavish existence that we find a deep sense of belonging and purpose.

 

As humans, we live in the mysterious mix of brokenness and beauty. We reclaim the truth that our identity is formed in the context of a special relationship to the Trinity. In the likeness of God, we live in community, all which houses ‘bonfires of relationship’. (3)

 

He has called us out as individuals, but also as a redemptive community of followers. We live in the conviction that our relationship as individuals with God is necessarily tied to relationships with others. We treat one another with dignity because He has crowned us with ‘glory and honour’. (4)

 

In the image of the God who relates, we respond in love. We respond recognising the reflection of the Trinity in our lives is the fuel evoking intimacy and care to those around us.

 

The original intention God had in Eden by giving humankind dominion was to serve, love, and generously give back while living in harmony with the created order. We celebrate the regenerating work of our hands in the new creation, and mirror our Maker as we recover His creation with His declaration that  “it is good”.

 

We recognise that “God Himself, by the Spirit, dwells in our hearts as we resonate with the pain of the world”. (5)  We are caught up in the groaning as we long for redemption. We are to be messengers modelling the message of putting the world to rights, as we ourselves “are put to rights by the same healing love.” (6)

 

As those who carry His just likeness, we respond with belief, embracing things we cannot see, the things of heaven, to release them on earth.

 

As humans we live fully and well as we connect to the awareness of the Beyond and Within.(7) We breathe in the eternal God-life that brims over and outwards.

 

We are learners incorporating holistic attitudes and adventurers with our whole being.

 

We are added to the army who are being formed to proclaim His praise.( 8 ) We are the new creation who expresses true humanity through Jesus. We ‘realise and extend creation through human re-enactment’. (9) We stand on the fault lines of a kingdom now and not yet.

 

As those fully alive, we respond with worship, wonder and adoration understanding that “worship makes you more truly human”. (10)

 

1. Romans 11:36

2. Martin Heidegger

3. Sally Morgenthaler lecture, 2008

4. Psalm 8:5

5. NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 139

6  NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 175

7. Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places, p 28

8. Isaiah 43:21

9. Levinson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil, p xxi

10.NT Wright, Simply Christian, p127

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